Digital Heritage Systems: The ARCO Evaluation

Digital Heritage Systems: The ARCO Evaluation

Stella Sylaiou (Hellenic Open University, Greece), Martin White (University of Sussex, UK) and Fotis Liarokapis (Coventry University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4046-7.ch014

Abstract

This chapter describes the evaluation methods conducted for a digital heritage system, called ARCO (Augmented Representation of Cultural Objects), which examines the tools and methods used for its evaluation. The case study describes the knowledge acquired from several user requirement assessments, and further describes how to use this specific knowledge to provide a general framework for a holistic virtual museum evaluation. This approach will facilitate designers to determine the flaws of virtual museum environments, fill the gap between the technologies they use and those the users prefer and improve them in order to provide interactive and engaging virtual museums. The proposed model used not only quantitative, but also qualitative evaluation methods, and it is based on the extensive evaluations of the ARCO system by simple end-users, usability experts and domain experts. The main evaluation criteria were usability, presence, and learning.
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Setting The Stage

Quite early on, MacDonald and Alsford stated “… museums cannot remain aloof from technological trends if they wish to attract 21st century audiences” (MacDonald & Alsford, 1997). Since the 1990’s Information and Communication Technologies become increasingly a critical factor for the success of cultural organisations, such as museums. “The present fiction in museums — that every visitor is equally motivated, equipped, and enabled ‘to experience art directly’- should be abandoned. It is patronising, humiliating in practice, and inaccurate” as Wright (1989, p. 148) points out. Successful choices of ICT tools and methods can support personalised access to cultural information, entertain, educate, please (Silverstone, 1994, p. 165), and enhance the virtual museum experience. This changing perspective led museums to assist visitors to construct meaning about virtual museum exhibits, tell stories about the objects, and establish connectedness between the museum objects, various layers of information about their context and the virtual museum visitors (Hoptman, 1992). More and more museums use ICT technologies for the documentation, conservation, organisation and dissemination of their cultural data for extending themselves to new audiences around the world and on increasing visitors’ participation, education and entertainment.

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